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How to take care of Zhantoxylum Bonsai

Lighting: Partial sun for Zhantoxylum. If kept indoors the Use of grow lamps for 12 hours daily is beneficial. Too little light will result in leggy growth.

Temperature: Hardy to zone 9. Some growers bring them in when temps drop to 50F /10ºC, others leave them outside until temps are in the 20s or below freezing! Ideal winter temperatures range from 50-68F/10 - 20ºC. There seems to be two factors that are more important than the actual temperature: the plant dislikes a sudden change in lighting and temperature (many die from lack of light when brought indoors) and individual plants respond different to this. If brought indoors, do not position this plant near a heat source, or it will lose leaves quickly. If kept outdoors year round, it will still drop leaves as the temperatures become colder.

Watering: Keep evenly moist at all times. Generally it needs lots of water during warm weather, so much that some experts recommend placing the Zhantoxylum in a tray of water. Others warn against this, as it encourages root rot. Zhantoxylum is not a natural water-lover like bald cypress, so a water tray should not be necessary if you faithfully water at the first sign of dryness. However, if Zhantoxylum dries out, it will soon drop its leaves as a result. If this occurs, remember to increase watering until the leaves return, and take care that root rot dont appear. Some recommend misting in dry weather. Some recommend daily misting, but do not mist while in bloom as this causes the flowers to rot. 

Feeding: Every 10-14 days during growing season, every 4-6 weeks in winter, using liquid bonsai food or half-strength plant food. Likes slightly acid soil conditions, so the occasional application of Miracid is appreciated.

Pruning and wiring: Prune as needed; the Zhantoxylum is a fast grower and may need radical or repeated pruning to maintain its shape. Will bud back on old wood; in fact, some books recommend occasionally pruning back beyond old growth to help the plant maintain its shape. Wire during the growing period. 

Repotting: Every 1-2 years in spring. The newly pruned roots will emit a wretched odor! Prune roots moderately, and use basic bonsai soil.

Pests and diseases

Pests: Red spider mite, scale and wooly aphids. Pests are usually not as much of a problem as a sudden change in conditions such as light, temperature, etc.

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